Isiolo lobby groups urge State resolve impasse with striking medics

Isiolo civil society groups

Religious leaders and members of civil society groups in Isiolo address journalists in Isiolo town on December 20, 2020.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

Civil society groups and clergy in Isiolo have called for a speedy return to work agreement between health workers and the government for normal services to resume in public hospitals.

The strike, continues to subject residents to a lot of suffering as many cannot afford to pay for health services at private hospitals.

Bishop Stephen Kalunyu, the Isiolo Interfaith Network secretary, said pregnant women and children in remote areas where there are no private hospitals cannot access maternity and immunisation services as dispensaries across the county remain closed.

“The strike has dealt the public a huge blow as many cannot afford the services at private facilities,” Bishop Kalunyu said during a meeting to discuss the situation of healthcare in the county. The meeting was organised by the Mt Kenya West Anglican Church of Kenya.

The religious leaders from the Muslim and Christian faiths resolved to offer county public health officers a platform to relay important messages, such as calls for immunisation of children, to help address poor health indicators.

“We are appealing to the health department to seize the opportunity and educate the public through mosques and churches,” he added.

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) Isiolo Branch Secretary Sheikh Dabaso Ali lashed out at the government for what he termed as misplaced priorities, saying it is not unfortunate that funds for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) are available while demands by the medics cannot be met.

Community health volunteers

Isiolo Women of Faith Network Chairperson Halima Golicha called for the speeding up of the County Community Health Bill which, once it becomes law, will provide for legal recognition of community health volunteers (CHVs) through monthly stipends to help them discharge their functions effectively.

Activist Anab Kassim said the Bill is yet to be subjected to public participation, stressing that the CHVs play a crucial role in improved immunisation, maternal and child health in far flung Garbatulla and Merti sub-counties.

“The issues raised by the health workers are genuine and there is a need for the government to prioritise their safety as are frontline workers in dealing with the deadly coronavirus,” said Ms Anab.

Strike unjustified

Meanwhile, Isiolo County health officials have accused nurses and clinical officers of striking without any genuine reason.

Health Executive Wario Galma and Health Chief Officer Ibrahim Alio said the county had already met all their demands and that the striking employees should resume work and provide services to patients.

Mr Alio said hospitals and health centres in the county have enough personal protective equipment, health workers are on comprehensive insurance cover that cost the county Sh75 million and that there are no salary arrears.

“They (health workers) have no particular reason for the strike which continues to deprive residents the crucial services,” said Mr Alio while appealing to them to return to work.


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